Rescue hens eating their own eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Nancyjane, Oct 2, 2009.

  1. Nancyjane

    Nancyjane In the Brooder

    Nov 9, 2008
    I got some rescue hens (from an egg farm, full of hormones and raised in cages) from the Humane Society.
    They didn't know where to lay at first and couldn't get up to the nests, so I gave them nest boxes on the ground. Great layers for several months, but have recently started eating their own eggs!!!!!
    They also aren't using the nests! I tried putting some golf balls in the nests so when they pecked at them they would get a surprise, but so far, no go!
    Being recently layed off(That's a pun folks, but true), we are thinking that it isn't worth it to keep raising the chickens since we aren't getting the eggs!
    Does anyone have any ideas how to fix this?
    With regular chickens, I might let them go free range, but these rescues are dumb as sticks and wouldn't last a couple of days out of the pen. I would feel really guilty letting them out to face hawks, cats, dogs etc. etc.
    Any help or ideas would be appreciated!
  2. joy

    joy Songster

    Aug 17, 2007
    Lancashire England
    They just might suprise you if you let them out. [​IMG]
  3. Bantimna

    Bantimna Songster

    Sep 29, 2009
    South Africa
    I think i have the answer:
    If your birds are egg eating look at their diet, their genetics, and their environment.
    Egg eating is rarely a habit formed from an occasional lucky broken egg.

    Its much more likely that they booby
    trapping a few eggs with chilli, curry, etc which Most find a deterrant.
    Egg eating can be a lack of calcium, a lack of protein and general
    nutrition,and boredom.
  4. toxo

    toxo Songster

    Jun 4, 2009
    Gillingham, UK
    I agree with Joy. I've had three rescued ex-batts for around a month now. I had to watch the dogs with them for a couple of days but after that they give as good as they get and now they're all in the garden together.
    Of course my situation is different to yours. I'm in an urban terraced house in Kent, England and so I don't have hawks and such to worry about. I'm expecting Mr Fox to put in an appearance eventually so they're locked up when I go out.
    The other thing that might make a difference is the layout of the coop. Mine is a raised coop with a nest box and wood shavings. They go up the ramp to the nest box to lay and straight away they're out in the run again looking for food so maybe the temptation to eat the egg is removed if it's out of sight.
    The first couple of eggs were laid under a bush and under the coop but it didn't take them long to start laying in the nest box.
    Let us know how you get on.
  5. Anny

    Anny Songster

    Apr 24, 2008
    Detroit Michigan
    When mine where eating their eggs I places golf balls in the nest, and they stopped.I think they tried to eat the golf balls and when they couldn't they gave up.
  6. Nancyjane

    Nancyjane In the Brooder

    Nov 9, 2008
    Joy- the neighbors have lost 5 hens to hawks. We also have coyote, fox and other critters.

    Their diet seems to be adequite- laying mash, scratch, leftover veges and fruit, rice and other goodies with some egg shell ground up from time to time.

    I guess I could put a store bought egg out there with cayenne or hot sauce or something. I'll give that a try.

    A raised coop is a possibility! I've been wanting to move them closer to the house anyway, and my neighbor has a great unused for years coop that is up on posts. I'm just not sure if they're smart enough to go up the ladder to get in there! They haven't figured out (in 6 months) how to go up the ladder to the nests!

    Thanks for the help! NT
  7. Nancyjane

    Nancyjane In the Brooder

    Nov 9, 2008
    Well, I totally covered an egg in hot sauce and it's gone! DH says he has read that chickens' taste buds don't register HOT. SOMETHING ate it!
    I'm still working on getting a smaller raised house for them. If that doesn't work I'll have to give them away as pets. They're too scrawny to eat!
    It's too bad, cause they were both very good layers. Nice extra large eggs almost every day. They just love to eat them now!
  8. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    I use cayanne pepper every other day, on the layena. It is used as
    a preventative for worms. Correct: The "hot," does not register. I have read others have tried mustard in an egg, etc. Those things do not work, and they will eat the mustard, etc.

    I don't have an answer for ya, but I will keep reading and see if I can find anything that works.
    Good luck!
  9. Harrietsmum

    Harrietsmum Songster

    Aug 17, 2009
    Hamilton, New Zealand
    Are you sure that it is the hens that are eating the eggs?
  10. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    People have had success with filling a blown out egg with liquid dishwashing soap. Others have put curtains in front of the nests to make it darker. I think what helped me was rearranging the coop and adding buckets for nests. I also use several golf/pingpong balls in each nest. Some people have roll away nests, so the eggs roll out of the hens reach.

    Good luck


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